Clause 1 — Power to destroy or otherwise dispose of property

Part of Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:00 am on 30th November 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North 11:00 am, 30th November 2012

My hon. Friend is right. There are probably 85,000 prisoners at any given moment in time, but over the course of a calendar year the number will be vastly greater. When, back in 2007, my hon. Friend Mr Chope asked how drugs had got into Dorchester prison, Mr Hanson, who was a Minister at the time, replied that in a single year there had been

“Under the current system, 405,259 releases on temporary licence”.—[Hansard, 19 June 2007; Vol. 461, c. 1253.]

There is, therefore, some evidence to support my estimate that there are some hundreds of thousands of such releases each year.

It now seems to me that the point about the definition of “prisoner escort vehicle”—I wondered whether my hon. Friend Stuart Andrew would mention this—is covered by clause 1(5), which defines it as

“a vehicle used for taking a prisoner to or from a prison or other place while in custody”.

I think, on reflection, that I am satisfied that the provision is drawn widely enough to defeat any silver-tongued lawyer who might suggest that a vehicle was not, in fact, a prisoner escort vehicle. I therefore intend to support amendment 2.

I think that there is some merit in amendment 3. Those who are closest to the prisoners and to what is going on in the prison environment should be allowed to determine whether something is used or may be used for unauthorised purposes, within the terms of the Bill, instead of having to refer the matter to the governor or director of the prison. I appreciate that some may not share that view, however.